Monthly Archives: August 2018

RONDA: WHERE BULLFIGHTING WAS BORN

 

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Joy and I rented an Audi Q3 to drive from Malaga to Sanlucar de Barrameda. On the way though, we passed by Ronda, a beautiful city sitting on the top of gorge that separates the old from the new town. A bridge called “puente viejo” connects the two parts of the town. We did not have the time to visit this bridge but we managed to visit the “puente nuevo” which offered magnificent vistas of the gorge and the surrounding countryside.

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We managed to visit the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Merced Ronda. Unfortunately we failed to visit the The Chapel of the Hand of Saint Teresa in the Camelites Convent and the “secret” bakery.   The bakery is where you order your bread or pastry in a rotating cabinet and you never get to see the nuns. On the other hand, the hand which is encased in a golden armour is said to be the uncorrupted hand of Rain Trees which was given to the nuns in Ronda just before the outbreak of the Civil War. It is reported that General Franco seized the relic and kept it in his bedroom during his tenure as the leader of Spain.  It was returned to the nuns after his death.

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We managed to have a short walk through the old town and meander through its pedestrian area. Walking along Calle Espinel we turned left and found ourselves in the central plaza of the town, called Plaza de Socorro. There we saw the water fountain of Hercules with two lions on his sides that he just tamed.

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This is apparently, hallowed grounds for the Andalucians. It was in 1918 when Blas Infante, the “father” of Andalucia unfurled the Andalusia flag on the first floor balcony right behind the fountain demanding the same treatment for autonomy as that of the other Spanish provinces. That building is the Circulo de Artistas (Arts Society) where a great number of cultural activities like flamenco performances take place.

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Because we were pressed for time, we did not get to visit the bullring in Ronda. But this is where modern bullfighting is said to have been born, largely because of the Romero family.  In particular, according to andalucia.com, Pedro Romero  is considered the first matador to truly conceive of the bullfight as an art and a skill in its own right, and not simply as a clownishly macho preamble to the bull’s slaughter. Joy and I love bullfights.  So, we will certainly be back to Ronda during its corrida season.

The reason why we were pressed for time was because I had not brought any formal suit or shirt for the baptism of Nadia. So we wanted to make sure we got to Sanlucar de Barrameda while the stores were still open. It would have been lovely to have lunch in Ronda, but we decided to try to hit a town much closer to Sanlucar.

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However, just 20 kilometres from Ronda Joy remembered that Setenil de las Bodegas is one of the interesting pueblos blanks so popular in Andalucia. So that’s where we headed for lunch.

AN INSPIRING SPANISH BAPTISM

Joy and I were on a trip to Sanlucar de Barrameda in Southern Spain. We went there because I was going to be a godfather to the daughter of a good Spanish friend of mine. The baptism ceremony was a short but solemn one. The family of my friend was complete: parents, siblings, cousins and close family friends. Oscar and Edyta Sergio Garcia christened their daughter Nadia. And as they were travelling all over the world, it took them 5 years to finally get their daughter baptised into the Catholic Church. Since I made a promise to be a godfather to their child even before she was born, I had no choice but to fulfil that promise. So on August 18 2018, I became a godfather to Nadia.

Baptism Ceremony

Baptism Ceremony

The ceremony was performed in a beautiful church of the Parroquia del Carmen. This church was originally constructed by the Carmlites in 1677 and was completed in 1689 through the generous contribution of the Marques de Arizon.

After the baptism, we proceeded to the reception at Patio Los Galanes, a cavernous restaurant with a very beautiful patio built centuries ago. The food was excellent and the wine was overflowing.  What really struck me though was how the family members interacted amongst themselves. I could feel the love and warmth among Oscar’s siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Oscar with Nadia, Joy and Edyta

Oscar with Nadia, Joy and Edyta

In spite of the fact that many of them hardly spoke any English and we (Joy and I) could barely pass conversational Spanish, we all had a lot of fun.  The family made us feel welcome. I was especially happy talking to Eduardo, Oscar’s father.  He spoke a bit of English because for many years he was a harbor pilot in Sanlucar and Seville. Most importantly we shared two of the best things in life: red wine and bacalao.

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Oscar has two other siblings – Eduardo Jr., and Raquel, a diplomat in the EU in Brussels.  She, of course, spoke perfect English, as did Ricardo, a cousin of Oscar who is an investment banker in London.

 

Raquel, Oscar's only sister

Raquel, Oscar’s only sister

Having heard and read of how much secularised Spain has become, it was a surprise to me to see, later on, Spanish families going out together.  Local.es, an internet-based English news service provider reported that Spain’s tight-knit family unit is not what it used to be. According to its research, the latest study by the country’s official stats body (INE) showed a drop in the average number of members per household from 2.58 in 2011 to 2.53 in 2013. With the population dropping and the the number of homes growing,that meant, according to the report, that the number of Spaniards lving by themselves is going up.

While indeed this may be true on paper, it did not seem that way on the ground.  I thought Oscar’s family was an exception. We could sense his family was not unique when we went out later that night.

Families eating and and having fun

Families eating and and having fun

We had dinner at a local restaurant where we listened to some flamenco music.  And there we saw local families enjoying the dinner together. Then we went around Plaza Cabildo close to midnight for tapas and drinks and we saw children, young parents, and grandparents frolicking around the fountain in the plaza.

Of course we never got to talk to them, but definitely Spain is far from being an individualistic country. The happy faces I saws among the parents, and the impish smile and laughter of the children made me conclude that Spain is still very much a family-centered country.

This was a short trip for me and Joy. Thanks to Oscar, Edyta, and Nadia, this trip opened our eyes to how God continues to bless humanity. Indeed what we have seen in this short trip serves as an inspiration for us back home to continue to safeguard our families, our values, and our tradition.